A STEVENAGE school has taken up academy status – the first in the town do so.

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The John Henry Newman School, a Roman Catholic secondary, officially became an academy yesterday (Thursday), after the secretary of state for education Michael Gove backed the school’s application to the Department for Education.

The change means the school is funded directly by central government rather than maintained by the local education authority and is now self-governing – with freedom to seek additional financial support from sponsors as well as autonomy on how it spends its budget.

Teachers must still meet the national curriculum core subjects and will be inspected by Ofsted.

John Henry Newman is one of four diocese of Westminster schools to be approved by the DfE and have combined to form an academy trust. A diocese spokesman said a number of local Catholic primary schools would join the trust shortly.

A joint statement by headteacher Michael Kelly and chairman of the governors Anita Simmons said: “We look forward to working closely with the diocese and the academies in the trust to continue to serve the needs of our pupils and students, the Catholic community in North Hertfordshire and the wider Catholic community beyond.”

The school joins Hitchin Girls’ School and The Knights Templar School in Baldock which were granted academy status last year.

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